When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
It’s a clash of the titans. The Hornets, winners of seven of eight, host the Timberwolves, winners of five straight.
Over their last five games, the Timberwolves sport the league’s fourth best offensive rating and second best defensive rating. All of their wins have been by double figures, including a 12 point win against the Heat on Wednesday and a 43 point shellacking of the Grizzlies last Saturday. Their big three of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards are unsurprisingly spearheading the winning streak.
Edwards has scored an efficient 22.6 points per game during the streak and is averaging 22.8 points per game in his sophomore season. Towns’ usage is down a bit with Edwards’ emergence, but he’s still one of the most difficult offensive players to contain in the league. Russell hasn’t fully found his rhythm yet, but he can get hot at any moment.
The rest of the Wolves’ production is rather piecemeal. Malik Beasley is a prototypical microwave off the bench a la Terrence Ross, but his usage is way down this season and so is his efficiency. He’s the only other Timberwolf averaging double figures. The rest of the roster is composed of defense-first and/or low usage players.
The Wolves pose a difficult match-up for the Hornets. For the season, they don’t score particularly efficiently, but they’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league. We’ve seen the Hornets to clean the glass consistently, and we’ve seen centers go off for big games, so it’s highly likely that we see Karl-Anthony Towns pour in a bunch of points in the early goings of the game.
They also defend well, and we’ve seen the Hornets offense go cold a little more frequently in recent weeks. The Hornets need LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier to stay hot, and they really need Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward to be more assertive and productive on offense to overcome this Wolves defense.
The Hornets may be without Mason Plumlee tonight, who is dealing with a calf strain. He hasn’t had his best season to this point, but the Hornets would certainly miss him tonight if he can’t go. At the very least he’s a big body to battle with Towns.
The Timberwolves will be without Patrick Beverly, who injured his groin against the Heat on Wednesday. That’ll certainly impact the Wolves defense.
One other storyline—Jaden McDaniels, younger brother of Jalen, has been getting consistent minutes for the Timberwolves this season. They’ll almost certainly share the floor for a few minutes tonight. That’s always fun.